259753 Engaging community to promote disaster preparedness among populations with functional challenges

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anita Denise Savell, DNP, RN, APHN-BC , Nursing Department, Sonoma State University, Santa Rosa, CA
Richard Ruge, MRA, MFA , DP4VP, Chairperson, Sebastopol, CA

Approximately 10% of people worldwide have a disability. As people age, impairments in physical and mental functioning tend to increase. The aging of the global population will produce higher rates of disability. Those with disabilities comprised a disproportionate percent of fatalities from Hurricane Katrina. The basic needs of people with functional limitations may not be met during catastrophic events. People with disabilities can require unique plans for notification, evacuation, nourishment, medication, or other essentials.


Promote disaster preparedness among people with functional challenges living in the community.


Outreach was undertaken to build awareness of the necessity for disaster preparedness among key stakeholders and organizations serving vulnerable groups in Sonoma County, California. A coalition of public and private agencies was formed called Disaster Preparedness for Vulnerable Populations (DP4VP). Activities focused on 1) communicating the limited public resources available for disaster response and 2) facilitating disaster preparedness among individuals at risk and their caregivers.


A grant funded the development of preparedness curriculum to educate individuals, caregivers, and staff from varied agencies. Products included a train-the-trainers manual and handouts. Groups trained have encompassed people with physical, mental, developmental, and economic challenges. DP4VP activities support continued outreach, trainings, preparedness adaptations, and revision of agency policies to support sustainable disaster readiness. Effective strategies and cross-training are regularly featured at bimonthly meetings.


The DP4VP coalition increased disaster preparedness among individuals with functional limitations and the agencies serving them. The DP4VP concept may be generalizable to similar communities and countries.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs

Learning Objectives:
1. Foster awareness of the need to prepare for disaster in the community, especially among groups with functional challenges. 2. Discuss the approach of promoting disaster preparedness by forming a coalition of agencies that serve groups with functional challenges. 3. Describe activities undertaken to increase disaster preparedness among people with functional challenges living in the community.

Keywords: Special Needs, Disasters

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I serve in the Sonoma County Medical Reserve Corps and as a Red Cross liaison on multiple county committees focused on disaster preparedness encompassing the community as a whole, a broad range of healthcare organizations, and populations considered medically or otherwise vulnerable during disaster. Planning for disasters was a graduate study interest with the dual goals of mitigating human suffering and promoting resilient recovery.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.